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Local Disruption, Global Condition: El Niño as Weather and as Climate Phenomenon
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0866-0487
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

El Niño denotes a periodical warm water stream in the Pacific Ocean. But who knew about this phenomenon, where and how? El Niño “the boy” emerged as a fabric of local experiences and stories of extreme weather events: tropical winter storms, floods, droughts and famines in the coastal states of South America, Indonesia and Asia. This rich cultural history went largely unnoticed in the Northern Hemisphere. Only in the 1980s and 1990s did El Niño acquire global recognition as an effect of the oceanic and atmospheric currents in the tropical Pacific region. As the oceans moved from a marginal to a central position in the discourse on the earth’s climate cycles, ENSO – the El Niño Southern Oscillation – became an indicator of global climate change.

 

This paper explores El Niño “the boy” and ENSO El Niño Southern Oscillation as juxtaposed and superposed environmental experiences. While El Niño the boy conveyed catastrophic experiences on the human scale, ENSO became known through terrific scientific views of earth from space. The paper will study satellite oceanography as a practice of concentrating distanced local events into new data fabrics. The case of the US-French orbital remote sensing satellite mission of TOPEX/Poseidon during the El Niño winter of 1997-98 demonstrates that science did not prevent catastrophic events; it removed the catastrophic from the new picture of regularity. From the data sets of remote sensing satellites, recurring local disruptions emerged as a periodic global climate condition. In this picture El Niño became the anomaly, a part of climate pattern with potential predictability.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
History of Technology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199423OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-199423DiVA, id: diva2:1062511
Conference
"Experiencing the Global Environment", Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Berlin, February 4-6
Projects
Views from a Distance: Remote Sensing Technologies and the Perception of the Earth
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2012-1134
Note

QCR 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-06 Created: 2017-01-06 Last updated: 2017-01-23Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
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Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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  • text
  • asciidoc
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